When creating an office wardrobe, there’s a common phrase that all men should take note of – you can tell how stylish a man is by looking at his shoes.
While your suit might be tailored, and your shirt and tie match, an ensemble can be completely thrown off by the wrong footwear, which means your shoe choice is essential.
Below, we’ve noted four of the best styles to wear to add to your work wardrobe – even just investing in one or two good pairs in black and brown to go with your suits will go a long way in making you presentable and professional in your office environment.
A variation of the classic Oxford has been around since the 1800s, and for good reason. If you’re going to pick just a single shoe style to have in your work wardrobe, the Oxford would be the best choice. Not only is it a perennially-stylish shoe associated with a professional look, but it has been and will continue to be on trend for years. A black pair to go with grey-toned suits would be a good call, while a dark brown or tan leather pair is a great complement to various shades of blue, including navy. Oxfords also come in a huge range of colors and patterns, so it’s likely you’ll be able to find the perfect pair to go with any suit you choose.
You can tell an Oxford shoe apart from others by its laces, which are mostly concealed between two flaps on either side of the top of the shoe, which cover the tongue and laces (this piece of the shoe is an extension of a part called the quarter). The shoe allows men to tie their laces without having them stick out, which gives a clean, put-together final look for your feet.
To the untrained eye, a brogue looks exactly the same as an Oxford, but upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that small holes have been intricately made in a pattern on various parts of the shoe. The holes were put there using a process called broguing, which is of course where the shoe style’s name comes from.
There are also a few different types of brogues. The full brogue (also known as a wingtip), has an extra piece of material laid over the toe, that when viewed from the top can look like it forms the letter “W” or “M.” A half-brogue also has an extra piece of punch-hole material over the toe, but instead of extending out into a shape, it simply ends in a straight line on either side of the shoe. There’s also a quarter-brogue, which has no detailing on the toe, except for a small strip of broguing in the same place where a half-brogues toe cap ends.
The brogue, in all of its various forms, has a more whimsical look to it than the plain Oxford and serves those who are looking to make a fashion statement well. Depending on the designer, broguing patterns can take on all kinds of looks, which offers a lot of potential choice to the discerning male consumer.
The Monk Strap
Perhaps the boldest choice on this list is a style that has recently made a big comeback in men’s fashion. The monk strap is easily recognizable by its buckles, of which there can be either one or two (and in some very trend styles, even more). The buckles act as the straps for a large piece of leather that crosses from one side of the shoe to the other, concealing the area where the tongue and laces are usually located on a classic Oxford.
GQ notes that the monk strap style of shoe is among the dressiest types of men’s shoes, but that the key is to treat them like you would any other type of work shoe, to add something a bit extra to your daily wardrobe. Like Oxfords, monk strap shoes can also take on extra embellishments, including broguing, intentional fading or weathering and various patterns and types of dyes. They also offer a great complement to other bits of flair you might choose to add to your outfit of the day, such as a pocket square, patterned socks or a bold tie.
This is another classic shoe style that’s made a comeback in recent years across the style spectrum. Loafers have become a major women’s shoe trend recently (including backless loafers, and other fun variations), as have loafer-style boat shoes and other more casual versions.
The loafer is defined as a slip-on shoe without laces, although it can have decorative buckles or or fastenings. You may have heard of the penny loafer, which has a small slot on the top of the shoe that, at the time of its creation fit the perfect amount of money for a phone call – a penny!
In recent years, Gucci, in particular, has given new life to the loafer, creating a covetable It shoe style with an instantly recognizable metal strap known as a horsebit that crosses the top of the shoe. A quick search for the Gucci Jordaan loafer brings up hundreds of results from style blogs and fashion publications.
Thanks to the breath of fresh air that’s been given to the loafer, it’s a shoe worth considering for your office wardrobe. For the workplace, a patent or shiny leather loafer is the way to go, and most likely fits best with your Friday or summer wardrobe. The right style can be worn any work day though, as long as it’s an elevated version of the loafer.